Tag Archives: Arthur Ashe

The trailer for the new “Rocky” movie thrills me, against my will. A beautiful story of Arthur Ashe helping a young boy. And if toddlers texted, what they would say?

RockyII

I realize I may be in the distinct minority here, but I loved “Rocky II” more than the original.

I love all the Rocky movies, of course, because I’m a red-blooded American male and there’s nothing more American than Rocky, dammit. (I didn’t love “Rocky V” because “Rocky V” didn’t exist, you understand? Did. Not. Exist. Sorry, I get a little aggressive talking about Rocky Balboa.)

The second one is my favorite, not just because it had the better ending (SPOILER ALERT: Adrian goes into a coma, an awesome training montage, and then a double-knockdown in the 15th round? Can’t beat that.) but because I think it was a better overall movie.

But hey, I loved all the Rocky movies, have watched the first four at least 20 times each, used to lift weights in my basement in high school while blasting the “Rocky” soundtrack (it’s beyond fabulous), and my father and I still often quote “Rocky” lines to each other and crack each other up.

Why am I telling you all this, on July 8, 2015? Because I just found out they’re making another movie based on the story of Rocky Balboa. It’s called “Creed,” and of course it’s about Apollo Creed’s son growing up to be a fighter, and he’s played by the terrific actor Michael B. Jordan (from “Friday Night Lights,” and “Fruitvale Station” fame), and my first 11 instincts are that this is going to be a train-wreck.

I mean come on, does the world NEED another Rocky movie? This would be, what, the seventh installment in this series? How much more do you want to run it into the ground? Can’t we all just leave well enough alone already, or must Rocky end up like “Friday the 13th” and no one even remembers the individual movies anymore, just the franchise?

So I was prepared to hate “Creed.” Then the trailer got released last week.

And it’s incredible:

 

And now I can’t wait to see it.  Seriously, watch that and tell me you don’t want to see it. Thanksgiving weekend, yeah, I’ll be at the movie theater.

Dammit, they’ve sucked me back in.

 

HonestToddler.textcrop

**Next up, my smart and talented friend Jen M., a mom of 3, alerted me to the brilliant Honest Toddler Twitter feed, which spits out really funny and clever stuff about what life would be like if we could read the minds of our little ones, and vice versa.

This post here is about the Top 10 Toddler texts that could be real, if they could text.

The photo above is one of my favorites, but they’re all fabulous; the best one is No. 4, about Elf on a Shelf.

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Archive-33480

**Finally today, it’s Wimbledon time, which always gets me thinking about one of my all-time heroes in life, Arthur Ashe. He’s been talked about a lot at this year’s tournament because it’s the 40th anniversary of his historic, groundbreaking championship win at the All England Club in 1975, when he beat Jimmy Connors in the final.

As often happens with anniversaries, there’s been a lot of fond remembrances of Ashe this week, and that’s a wonderful thing, because he died far too young and I fear younger sports fans don’t know and appreciate just how influential and pioneering Ashe was, for athletes and for the human race in general.

He touched so many lives, and did so much good, in such a short time. Kurt Streeter, a very talented writer, penned this piece for ESPN.com about his brief time knowing Ashe, and how he helped a young black kid in need.

It’s a wonderful story about a man loved by so many.

Remembering Arthur Ashe, 20 years after his death. A mash-up of every Internet fad, ever. And another reason newspapers must be saved (it involves dog poop)

arthurashe

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It’s not too often that we remember the anniversary of someone’s death, two decades after the fact.
That honor is usually reserved for extraordinary people, Presidents and Kings and people who left an indelible mark on the world.

Arthur Ashe is one such person, a giant in life whose legacy has not diminished one bit in death. I read on the Internet Wednesday that it’s been 20 years since he passed away, due to the AIDS virus, and I winced in my head; I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Arthur Ashe started to become a hero of mine as I got serious about tennis, around age 10 or 11, and the more I read about him, the more I liked him. A trailblazer as an African-American playing junior tournaments in Richmond, Va., he became a top 10 pro and throughout the 1970s carried himself with grace and dignity, on and off the court.

He was the first African-American to win Wimbledon, a historic event in 1975, and after retirement continued to be a vital fighter against racial inequality all over the world.

And then, in the prime of his life in 1988, Ashe was struck down with the AIDS virus. In his last few years he became an outspoken leader in dispelling AIDS myths (it might be hard for young people to believe, but in 1988 a huge percentage of people thought only gay people could get AIDS) and raising money for research.

I became even more fascinated by Ashe after reading his autobiography, “Days of Grace,” written after his AIDS diagnosis was revealed. Written in simple, elegant prose, Ashe tells the story of his life. So many times he writes impassively about the racism he endured in a lily-white sport; I am amazed at how calm he always kept.

He is one of the greatest sportsmen America has ever known, and I’m thrilled that when I go to the U.S. Open every year, it is into Arthur Ashe Stadium that I walk (though it kills me a little that his name is on such a monstrosity of an arena, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion).

Anyway, I wish he were still around, and so do a lot of other people. Melissa Issacson has written a beautiful article here about Ashe on the 20th anniversary of his passing, and here’s Kenny Moore’s great piece in Sports Illustrated from 1992, when the magazine named him Sportsman of the Year.

**OK, time to lighten the mood a little.  This cracked me up; a highlight (or lowlight) mash-up reel of just about every Internet fad that had 15 minutes of fame, or sometimes more, done to the Journey classic “Faithfully.” (And yes, there are cat videos in here).

**And finally, you know I’m always looking for any excuse to declare that newspapers are still relevant and important; it’s the ex-reporter in me clinging to my first love.
Well, this week I heard about yet another way that print is vital and must stay alive: Animal shelters need it to help with their dog poop problem.

The San Francisco Animal Control Agency has been running out of newspapers to put below their new puppies; they have previously always relied on donations from the public, but with fewer and fewer people buying newspapers, there’s been a big shortage.

Thankfully, the local libraries in San Francisco have stepped in (no pun intended) and are supplying sports, features and news sections for young Fidos to pee on.

Ah yes, kind of gives a new meaning to people who say they don’t give a crap what’s in the newspaper.

Why I love the Open (and a few final Teddy thoughts)

USopenpic.1

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a lot of great sporting events in my life. The NCAA Tournament, big NFL games, college football bowls, the Daytona 500, and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (I was there the night of the bomb in the park, but thankfully nowhere near the explosion).

But without a doubt the best sporting event I’ve ever been to is the U.S. Open. There is so much to love about the Open, especially if you go on one of the first few days.

For starters, you get to see world-class tennis up close, and by up close, I mean, literally, five feet away. When I was younger my uncle would take us to the Open every year on one of the opening days, and I was always amazed that you could see a Top 10 player out on Court 16 or something, and be close enough to pat him on the back.

The Open is best seen not from the ginormous Arthur Ashe Stadium (which is just way too big for a tennis stadium, but that’s another argument), but by perusing the outer courts.  You can spend hours watching future stars grind out wins, and see the agony of defeat from right up close. You just can’t do that anywhere else in sports.

Then there’s the Open atmosphere. It can be cold and antiseptic on Ashe, but on the new version of Louis Armstrong Stadium and on the Grandstand, the crowd can really get into the match. You’re sitting with real tennis fans there, not the corporate shills who the USTA has sold all the good seats on Ashe too (you know, the people who are constantly on their cell phones and couldn’t tell Andy Roddick from Andy Griffith.)

The food is awesome at the Open as well, though it’s wildly, wildly overpriced. Bring your own if you can, because you’ll pay an arm and a leg, and a kidney, for lunch.

The memories I have of the Open are some of the most cherished of my life; two that leap out of my cerebellum immediately are the day my Mom and I saw Chris Evert’s last-ever Open match, a quarterfinal loss to Zina Garrison in 1989, and a marvelous full day in 2005 I spent with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, over Labor Day weekend.

By that point she’d been hearing me wax poetic about the Open for 1 1/2 years, so for my birthday that year she got me the fantastic present of two Open tickets, and basically said “Here, show me the Open.”

And so I did. We got all kinds of lucky that day; we saw Martina Navratilova, maybe the greatest women’s player ever, in a doubles match on the Grandstand. We saw Lleyton Hewitt win on Ashe, and sat next to a bunch of drunk Australians (are there any other kind? I kid, I love the Aussies) who were chanting the whole match.

But the absolute greatest moment? Sneaking over to Armstrong late in the day and happening upon a third-round match between Paradorn Srichaphan and Davide Sanguinetti. Never heard of them? That’s OK, 95 percent of the people in the crowd that day hadn’t either (though everyone got a kick out of the “Srichi-fans” rooting for the Thai guy and making all kinds of noise.)

We got to the court late in the fourth set, and saw one of the glorious U.S. Open epics. We were in the corner of the court and way high up, but we still were going nuts on every point. The noise was remarkable, the quality of play intense: Sanguinetti ended up winning 7-6 in the fifth set tiebreak, and the crowd rose as one for a standing O at the end of the match.

My arms were tingling, and as I looked over, I felt like my wife’s were, too. She finally understood what I’d been talking about all these years.

Anyway, it all kicks off today once again. I’ll be glued to the set as always; there’s nothing like the Open. I’ve been away from New York for four years now, and I never miss it more than in these two weeks.

If you get a chance, I did this piece for the News-Journal on Rafael Nadal’s chances, as well as some thoughts on the Open in general.

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Saw a lot of Ted Kennedy eulogies over the weekend, but didn’t see the entire service. I have to echo what so many have already said, and that is that Orrin Hatch gave one of the most beautiful eulogies I’ve ever heard. Hatch and Kennedy were very good friends despite having no political common ground.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth your time.

Two other quick thoughts on Kennedy:

1. Do you think we’ll ever, in our lifetime, see another family produce three U.S. senators, including one president? I have to think that kind of thing is impossible nowadays, because the sins of one will be used to slime the others.

2. I thought all the discussion about Kennedy’s career in the Senate was wonderful, but I didn’t hear enough about all the tragedy he overcame. To me, that’s what made him such a compelling figure.

Anyway, here’s the Hatch tribute. Well done, Orrin.